It's so easy when you are at a fabulous place on holiday to think that you'd like to live there all the time. The sun always shines, people are so relaxed and friendly away from the rat race, the pace is slower and the cost of living is way below the exorbitant prices we are expected to pay for everything in the UK. The temptation can be huge.

And more and more Brits are deciding to pack their bags and buy abroad, either as a holiday home, investment proposition, retirement property or simply because they want to live there full time.

More than a million Britons will buy a home overseas this year. In Cyprus eight out of 10 new homes built will be sold to UK residents. The overseas property market is booming because of bargain prices, improved travel and the increased ability to work from home. Moving abroad can be a dream come true but there are serious pitfalls to avoid.

Many buyers choose to remortgage their UK home to finance the overseas purchase. It makes sense from a language point of view, all the documentation will be in English and the financial safeguards that apply in UK law can be an advantage.

And it generally allows you to borrow up to 90 per cent of your existing main home's value, as long as the total does not exceed three and a half times an individual's income or two and a half times a couple's joint income.

It's a bad idea to risk using cash for the purchase. You won't have any back-up from banks or building societies making checks on your behalf and you may have little chance of getting your money back if the deal goes pear-shaped.

If you do decide to go ahead, you must get independent legal advice from a respected local solicitor and make sure you get a full survey done on the property.

You can also take out a mortgage overseas and some of the biggest UK finance houses such as Abbey and Halifax now have established branches abroad in order to satisfy this market. It may mean you need to put down a larger deposit and you will be lent significantly less than you might borrow in Britain.

Using a British bank with an overseas office can be enormously helpful when you have to pay local utility bills and taxes. They also have local contacts and can recommend approved professionals to help you. Choosing between a UK or overseas mortgage can also be influenced by predictions of how interest rates will fare. If you borrow in France for example, you will be bound to French interest rates.

Even if you think you are going to make a lot of money in rental income from the property you won't be able to borrow on the strength of that predicted income.

If you do make money renting out the property you will have to pay tax on it. If that money is transferred back to the UK you will pay UK tax, otherwise you pay the tax rates of the country in which the property is located.

The worst thing you can do is to make an impulse buy while you are actually on holiday. Influenced by sun and a few drinks it is easy to get carried away by your relaxed mood and fantasise about what life would be like.

Make sure you have thoroughly investigated the surrounding area and preferably go at different times of the year. Driving rain and cold winds can make a big difference to first impressions of sun and sand.

Don't pay up front for a home that is not built yet. Any reputable developer will accept that payments should be made in stages as the building goes up. And make sure that you have agreed the final price and that the cost doesn't go up during the building process.

If you are planning on renting out your property, make sure that you are legally allowed to. Some local laws prevent this. And don't forget that you will have to comply with local health and safety regulations.

If you are buying a run-down property and plan major building works or conversions, be diligent about checking the planning laws. It is not unknown for impulse buyers to find they have bought the equivalent of a Grade 1 listed building and can't make any changes at all. That rural barn may in fact be exactly that, a farm building with absolutely no planning permission for conversion to a home.

Perhaps the most important advice of all is don't sign anything unless you understand it fully.

Picture caption: Home in Cyprus.

This article was downloaded from http://www.freefeatures.com.
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Home in Cyprus

It's so easy when you are at a fabulous place on holiday to think that you'd like to live there all the time. The sun always shines, people are so relaxed and friendly away from the rat race, the pace is slower and the cost of living is way below the exorbitant prices we are expected to pay for everything in the UK. The temptation can be...

Britons have stopped just dreaming about buying a property in the sun. Instead, hordes are taking the plunge, with oversees property purchases and their own private swimming pools.

There are many reasons why so many people are buying abroad. For some it is the dream holiday home, for others an idyllic retirement in the sun. But many savvy buyers are in it for the investment.

Lower mortgage interest rates in Europe are a huge incentive, as are the revenue prospects of buy-to-let properties. But where to start? Like any long-term investment, buying abroad requires much thought.

First, understand what the long-term use of the property will be. Your ideal property located deep within rural France may be your dream getaway, but if you are purchasing with the intention of renting the property out to the tourist market, it may not be your right choice.

Location, location, location, as they say, is paramount to your purchase. You probably have an idea of the country you are interested in, so thought should be on locality. Only you know what you are looking for, but research any possible towns thoroughly, including local facilities and travel amenities. Here is where you may encounter some internet help from local expatriates.

It is essential to look for general guidelines relating to purchasing property. These will differ vastly from country to county. The internet provides vast amounts of information regarding local customs, property taxes, estate agent fees and other hidden purchase and sale costs relating to properties abroad.

France

In France, agents should possess a licence to practise ( carte professionnelle ) and should provide indemnity insurance and a bond ( piece de garantie ) that covers your deposit in the event of bankruptcy or fraud.

To complicate things, you may encounter reputable UK-trained agents without a licence or bond. In this event, the practice is to hold your deposit with a state official, known as a notaire, who oversees property transactions . The notaire should also be used in the case of private sales.

Professional advice for France, or any of the countries listed here, is to ensure a UK property lawyer, experienced in overseas sales, views any documents relating to any kind of sale, even if you employ a foreign lawyer.

Property purchase fees in France are between 10 and 12 per cent, usually paid by the vendor.

Spain

The Spanish government liberated the estate agency profession in 2000. Removing the licence system means that today, anyone can function as an estate agent. The best advice is to look for companies that still advertise the old licence systems: API or GIPEs.

Spain has witnessed massive property development in recent years, much of which is targeted at the British buyer. Property agents have come to market all-in packages, taking care of fees and legal advice. There are also many private sales.

Buyers not taking the all-in fee route need to allow approximately 10 per cent of the purchase price for professional - including legal - fees, in addition to agent commission costs. All fees are subject to VAT.

Beware, unlike the UK, any debts incurred by the previous owner relating to property in Spain, such as community taxes, will be passed on to the new owner.

Italy

Agents in Italy must pass an exam to be listed in the directory of licenced agents, called the ruoli.

Buyers and sellers usually split the agent's costs, which total between 1 and 4 per cent of the purchase price. But additional fees are high. Registration tax is 10 per cent for non-residents, notary fees are approximately 4 per cent, plus surveying and legal costs. You could be looking at as much as 20 per cent of the purchase price.

For any purchase, be aware of the capital gains tax system operated in Britain, which will eat into any profits made from a subsequent sale.

Financing

Many people release equity from their UK property to buy their dream home, or take out a loan secured on their existing mortgage. Speak to an independent financial adviser to find out the best option. You may be able to take advantage of low European mortgage rates.

Picture caption: Dream home - a house abroad, like these wonderful lakeside abodes in Italy, could be an investment, but do your sums carefully.

This article was downloaded from http://www.freefeatures.com.
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Buy a spot in the sun

Britons have stopped just dreaming about buying a property in the sun. Instead, hordes are taking the plunge, with oversees property purchases and their own private swimming pools.

There are many reasons why so many people are buying abroad. For some it is the dream holiday home, for others an idyllic retirement in the sun....

Jet-to-let purchases are the talk of the property industry as more and more Britons plough money into buying up properties overseas. But not all overseas property owners purchase with the intention of being part of the jet-to-let set. Most buyers intend to enjoy their property as a private holiday home and a future investment, only later realising the benefits of letting, according to a survey of holiday homeowners.

To assess the mood among those buying property abroad, Holiday Lettings (www.holidaylettings.co.uk) conducted a survey of its holiday homeowners. It revealed that while 74 per cent of owners said rental income was the most significant benefit of their overseas purchase, only seven per cent stated this as their original reason for purchase.

More than half - 51 per cent - of holiday homeowners originally purchased because of the advantage of low cost holidays. However, with the rental market abroad booming, many are tempted by the added income during the peak seasons.

Buyers view their properties as a long-term investment, with 42 per cent not expecting or intending to sell their overseas property for the foreseeable future. Most also chose their property's location because of easy access to and from the UK, making them ideal for the letting.

For those buying property in Spain, research has also indicated a distinction between holiday home and retirement home purchases. Buyers looking to retire there had a preference for property located inland, where you can get substantially more for your money. For a holiday or rental property, being close to the sea is still the most attractive feature.

Holiday Lettings says, "The survey exemplifies the current dynamic of the overseas property market and the lucrative aspect of letting out holiday homes.

"It is interesting to monitor the mood regarding overseas property purchase from an owner's perspective."

Another study, conducted by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), has estimated that 5.5 million Britons are opting to live abroad. IPPR found Spain to be one of the top locations for emigration, alongside English speaking nations such as Australia and the US. In line with that research, the largest group of Holiday Lettings' homeowners looking to emigrate were those with property in Spain.

Picture caption: Costa del Sol - ideal place for getting rental income from an overseas property.

This article was downloaded from http://www.freefeatures.com.
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Live and let buy

Jet-to-let purchases are the talk of the property industry as more and more Britons plough money into buying up properties overseas. But not all overseas property owners purchase with the intention of being part of the jet-to-let set. Most buyers intend to enjoy their property as a private holiday home and a future investment, only later r...

With its scorching summers and a cosmopolitan lifestyle, the south of France is one of the most sought after spots in Europe for property investors and holidaymakers. Property hotspots are concentrated in the well developed coastal towns and cities along the French Riviera, but there are still some up-and-coming areas.

Property investors will be pleased to hear that France is second only to Spain in the popularity stakes for investors and holidaymakers. France has a unique appeal for both. The ability to fly, drive or take the train is one practical attraction, but most people are drawn by the outstanding scenery, warm Mediterranean climate in the south and the fact that, unlike Spain, it seems to have retained its cultural and architectural heritage. When you are holidaying in France, there's no mistaking it.

After Rightmove acquired the majority stake in holidaylettings.co.uk, the overseas part of its business, RightmoveOverseas, teamed up with the holiday lettings website to provide a comprehensive guide to the property market in the south of France.

It found that searches for properties in the region through RightmoveOverseas revealed Languedoc-Roussillon as an emerging hotspot. Unlike some of the more cosmopolitan cities and towns in the south, Languedoc-Roussillon offers property investors and holidaymakers a traditionally French way of life. The region also benefits from easy access from the UK through airports such as Perpignan and Montpellier.

Ross Elder, MD of holidaylettings.co.uk, says, "House prices are increasing in France, but as long as the investor purchases and furnishes a property to meet the demographic of the visitors to that location, there should be potential for attracting holidaymakers and achieving a return on investment."

Properties in Languedoc-Roussillon average £175,000, but you can get a one-bedroom apartment from about £65,000. Highly sought after two-bedroom farmhouses start from as little as £68,000 and four-bedroom cottages from £105,000.

If you are considering buying property to let in the south of France you can expect rental yields to vary dramatically, depending on a town or city's popularity and status. Rental prices for properties in exclusive Cannes through holidaylettings.co.uk can yield as much as £2,000 a week for a luxury two-bedroom apartment near the palace, but this can drop to as little as £160 a week for a cosy one-bedroom apartment by the beach. Choose the location of your property carefully by researching the rental yields and occupancy rates you can expect.

Justin Figgins, head of RightmoveOverseas, adds, "The recent election of a new president and Sarkozy's initiatives are good news for the French property market. This change will also be beneficial for British investors looking to buy into France.

"Sarkozy's plans will not take effect until later in 2008, giving investors time to purchase French properties before the boom and watch the price of their properties quickly appreciate."

Picture caption: France's Languedoc-Roussillon - emerging property hotspot.

This article was downloaded from http://www.freefeatures.com.
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The French Connection

With its scorching summers and a cosmopolitan lifestyle, the south of France is one of the most sought after spots in Europe for property investors and holidaymakers. Property hotspots are concentrated in the well developed coastal towns and cities along the French Riviera, but there are still some up-and-coming areas.

Pro...
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